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While attending a party, I was introduced by a friend to a woman named Susan (not her real name). She told Susan that I was the “Book Marketing Diva” and an expert publishing consultant and that I might be a good resource for her. This included helping her avoid mistakes, pitfalls and dangers in the publishing industry.

YOU HAVE WRITTEN A BOOK–Susan was a leading business consultant. Her clients included large companies throughout the country. She had recently self-published a nonfiction business book and had sold 3,000+ books through her own marketing efforts in less than a year.

YOU WANT A PUBLISHER–Susan wanted to get a publisher. She believed her book could be a bestseller if she had a publisher who would do the marketing and promotion for her book. I did not want to pour cold water on Susan’s dream, but my many years of experience in the industry included having many traditionally published authors come to me after having a major disappointment with the lack of success of their own books, which they attributed to the lack of marketing and promotion by their publisher.

This included some of the biggest publishing companies in the world. And authors with top credentials and impressive books.

A PUBLISHER SAYS THEY WANT YOUR BOOK–It appeared Susan’s dream to get a publisher might come true when a friend of hers introduced her to a top executive at a very prestigious big traditional publishing company, and the company said they wanted to publish her book.

Susan was flattered and excited this publisher was interested in her book.

AUTHOR BEWARE!–There are many vanity presses and “self-publishing” companies that will flatter you and tell you they want to publish your book. If you wish to make a wise decision, you need to do research to find out what you are getting into with any publishing company. 

BEWARE THE PUBLISHING CONTRACT–The publisher sent Susan a publishing contract. And she asked if I would review the contract and give her my opinion. I told her I could take an initial look at the contract, but that she would need to hire a literary attorney to review and negotiate the contract.

Literary law is a very specialized area of law and any contract must be carefully examined by someone with up-to-date expertise in publishing. I told her that I also had personal experience with this publisher, top contacts with them as well, and some inside information that might be helpful.

TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING USING A LITERARY AGENT–As I told Susan, it is usual for an author to first get a literary agent. The literary agent would secure a publisher and then negotiate the contract, and could have greater leverage to negotiate a deal than a single unknown author.

YOUR BOOK IS AN ASSET– If you are an author, your book is valuable intellectual property and it is very important to be careful with your assets and publication rights. Don’t part with either too easily. This definitely applies to self-publishing as well. If you sign with a publisher, you may unknowingly sign away rights and lose control of your book.

I had one author client who wanted to re-publish her bestselling children’s book published by a big name publisher. She could not do it because she had sold them the rights. Years had passed and they were no longer interested in her book. They did not to reprint it. But she wanted to re-print it. But could not do so. She had to spend a great deal of money on legal fees and a great deal of her time fighting to get those rights back.

BEWARE OF TRADITIONAL AS WELL AS VANITY PUBLISHERS AND SELF PUBLISHING COMPANIES–Companies go out of business. Companies go through mergers. I have a new author client who published with an indie publishing company that was acquired by another company.

LOST IN SPACE: NO ONE WILL NOW RETURN YOUR PHONE CALLS OR EMAILS–Now, she cannot get anyone to return a phone call or e-mail. All the previous employees are gone.  And I have another author client who published with a “vanity” press or so-called “self-publishing company” (and this is a pretty well-known company in the world of publishing), and their customer service is so bad that it was almost impossible to get any follow-up or help whatsoever. I had to actually take over and troubleshoot the process in order to cancel my client’s contract. And they company would not return the book files, so these had to be re-created, which involved time and expense.

USE CAUTION WITH PUBLISHING YOUR BOOK WITH ANY PUBLISHER–I don’t want to discourage any author’s dreams for their book. However,  I advise caution about even going with a publisher, any publisher. You really do not need a publisher today. There is a new paradigm in publishing and it is SELF PUBLISHING.

Literary agent Andrew Lownie believes that in 5-10 years, 75% of books will be self-published.”

In my own experience, I have had many authors come to me who were traditionally published, even by big name publishers. They thought these publishers would market their books for them, only to be bitterly disappointed.  They found out, after signing away their book rights, that the publisher did little to nothing to promote their books.

SELF-PUBLISHING MAY OFFER A BETTER FINANCIAL REWARD THAN USING A PUBLISHER– In fact, very few books are actually profitable, whether published by a traditional publisher, or self-published. However, there can be other reasons to publish a book than just pure profit, including creative self-expression, building professional credibility, building a business, creating a brand name, using a book as your “business card,” and providing valuable information.

But the truth is, since publishers pretty much expect an author to do their own marketing, an author has a much better chance at making money if they self-publish than if they go with a publisher.

HOW TO SELF-PUBLISH YOUR BOOK –Excellent overview by Jane Friedman


IF TRADITIONAL PUBLISHERS EXPECT YOU TO MARKET TO YOUR OWN BOOK, WHY DO YOU WANT OR NEED A PUBLISHER?–It has become very easy now to self-publish your own book and get worldwide distribution. You do not need a publisher to do this for you. You can use such services as Create Space (Amazon’s print on demand service) or Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon’s ebook service.)

DEVELOPING YOUR AUTHOR PLATFORM–It does take an investment of an author’s time (and usually some money) to actually promote a book.  Today, publishers expect you to market your own book, and they are looking for authors who have a “platform”, i.e, a built in ready-made audience that will want to purchase the author’s books. Your platform can be a million followers on Twitter. Or a large email list. Or followers of your blog. Or readers of your articles in magazines, newspapers. Or viewers of your television show. Or those who come to hear you speak as a professional speaker.

DEFINITION OF AUTHOR PLATFORM– This is a great article by Jane Friedman about the Author Platform

PRICING YOUR BOOK PROPERLY–But if the author prices the book correctly, he or she can get a much bigger profit per book. For example, one of my clients who was traditionally published and made perhaps about $1.00 per print book royalty is now making between $4.00 – $6.00 per print book royalty. So if he had stayed with a publisher, he would have had to sell four to six times the number of books to make the same amount of money. So if he sold 1,000 books on his own, he would have had to sell 4,000 – 6,000 books through a publisher. And he still would have to do all the marketing himself.

FINAL WORDS OF ADVICE–Please do your homework before going with any company for publishing, whether it is a publisher or author-services company that allows you to self-publish and have complete ownership and control (such as Create Space).

copyright 2018 – Joan Holman- Online Marketing Guru & Book Marketing Diva –

Joan Holman Info

Book Marketing Diva Joan Holman is a Minneapolis, Minnesota-based author, ghostwriter, book development and book marketing consultant who works with traditionally-published and self-published authors throughout the world, including many top business and thought leaders. Contact her at or by phone at 952-595-8888. Websites: and

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